Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist who has rattled the political establishment in his country with his outspoken views, is speaking out about the conditions of his three-month imprisonment.
During his detention, Ai told the New York Times, he was watched at all times by a pair of guards, who always remained inches from his side. Ai described the claustrophobic supervision as a kind of "mental torture." He added, "It works well."
In April, Ai was arrested by Chinese authorities on suspicion of "economic crimes," a term the government frequently uses when detaining activists. Authorities later said Ai was under custody for tax evasion, but an associate of the artist said tells the Times that Ai was never questioned about such an allegation.
“He told me that when he was taken from the airport, the police told him: ‘You always give us trouble, now it’s time for us to give you trouble’,” the associate said.
According to the associate, Ai was interrogated about his activism and his blog, which is frequently critical of the Chinese government.
Although Ai was instructed upon his release to stop making public statements, the artist expressed his support over Twitter on Tuesday for four detained colleagues, and he pushed for the release of two other imprisoned activists.